4Rs Tips for 02.05.2023 – 3 Ways to Reduce: A Return to Basics

Hello planet lovers. I hope you missed me. I’ve missed you! I took a break while I started a new job and had to relocate. I was also busy finishing edits to my book on recycling, which I will share a link to once it’s published. 

This being the one-year anniversary of my first 4Rs post, I felt it was a good time to restart. So, like any good thing, we hope to see again, my 4Rs blog has returned. And so I want to talk about “returning” or, more specifically, A Return to Basics and how it can Reduce our impact on the planet.

Returning to basics can simplify your life and 
contribute to a healthier, happier world.

A happy planet means we are all healthier.
It increases our opportunities for happiness.

Let’s tweak those habits!

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few changes you could make in your daily life that would help the environment? Good News! There Is! 

There are THREE AREAS in life where changing how we do things can reduce waste and global warming significantly. And it often takes simple adjustments and little effort.

You may find some changes easy to make; some may be hard. 
Start with the easy. Stick with it.

I like starting with the easy, feeling the reward from doing that – sometimes actually giving myself a reward – and then once I’ve solidified a change into a habit, challenging myself to add tougher changes. 

So here we go, use these ideas to find things you can implement in your life. Start now. Don’t just think about it, write them down. 

  • Code them as Easy, Kind of Hard, and Really Hard. And get to work checking off the list.

The 3 Key areas where humans contribute to the waste crisis are:

    • How we shop,
    • how we eat, and 
    • the packaging we use.

    1 – Rethink your buying habits. Stop and ask yourself why you’re buying something.

    • If the answer is because you feel like it, there’s a good chance the item will end up in the trash in the not-too-distant future.
      • If you enjoy retail therapy, change to browsing thrift stores. You’ll find treasures and eliminate the impact of manufacturing from the cost of your purchase.
    • We’ve been trained by the media to over-shop. Commercials tell us we should buy crap we don’t really need.
    • Reducing how much you buy can simplify your life.
      • The obvious: you save money.
      • The not-so-obvious: the less you have in drawers, closets, cupboards, and storage lockers, the less time you spend figuring out what to do with it or paying for the space.
        • Donate good-condition clothes and household items that you don’t use.
          • Most thrift shops are non-profits that benefit people in need. 
          • There’s one near me, Hope Thrift, that benefits disabled people.
            • Great book selection.
          • Goodwill employs and supports people who need help getting back on their feet.
            • Goodwill Finds is their online store for buying good quality used items, especially clothes.
        • Cut up worn-out clothes to make cleaning rags or crafts.
          • I’ve found hundreds of craft ideas online for reusing old materials.
      • Rent tools instead of buying ones you won’t use regularly.
    • Stay away from fast fashion and cheaply made goods that aren’t made to last.
      • Good quality clothes can be donated and used by someone else, but shitty ones can’t.
      • Buying used clothes and goods is cheaper and better for all of us.
        • My blender is a good glass one I paid $5 for a year ago at Goodwill. Cha-ching! 
        • Two great benefits of shopping at thrift shops; you get the good feeling of helping the planet and other people, and both your purchases and your donations are likely a tax write-off.

    The effort you put into minimalizing your lifestyle will reward you with a better life in the future. You’ll be amazed what reduce can mean to your productivity.

    Let’s work on owning only what we need and use

    Tiny houses are based on the idea that you should only have in your home what you really need. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty simple to me.

    2 – How you eat makes a big difference. Not only what you eat but where you eat has an impact on the planet.

    • Over a third of adults in America eat fast food daily. I’m not saying we stop eating fast food and take-out (I do it; it’s too darn convenient). I’m saying we need to pay attention and cut back in order to reduce waste. A few decades ago fast food was a treat you ate once in a while.
      • Most fast food and take-out containers are not recyclable.
        • Even plastics with a symbol have little chance since plastics don’t easily recycle.
          • Avoid plastics; go with coated paper that will break down easier.
        • The paper bag is often the only thing that can be recycled unless that gets greasy.
      • Ge reusable straws. Then you can say “no” to the straw at the drive-thru.

    If I find I’m doing drive-thru or take-out too often, which happens since I’m working two jobs, I start to track it on my wall calendar. Marking it down at the end of each day makes me rethink hitting a drive-thru on a busy night. It makes me pay attention so I minimize my waste.

    • When you track how often you eat out and how much you spend, you’re encouraged to put time into meal planning and having ways to make quick meals when you get home late on a busy day.
      • Keep track on a calendar or notebook of how many times you get fast food or takeout during the week. Record it at the end of each day so you don’t forget.
      • Review your bank spending and add up all you spent on take-out and drive-thru.
      • Then work on cutting it down by 2-3 meals the next week. Find substitutes for those convenient, unhealthy meals. You’re smart. You can think of ways to fit that into your schedule. If I can do it, you can 🙂
        • Take leftovers or cans of soup for lunch. Keep a spoon and microwave bowl at work so you can wash and reuse them.
        • Prepare big meals on the weekends with lots of leftovers you can reheat for lunch or dinner throughout the week.
          • Don’t let those leftovers go bad. Put a reminder in your phone if you have to.
      • Pay attention to how much you’re reducing trash. This is a huge encouragement for me.
        • A great reward for me is seeing on my calendar that more than ten days have gone by since I’ve taken out trash or recycling. Keeping track of my waste feels good. It encourages me to skip trips to the drive-thru.

    One-third of all food goes to waste each year creating methane emissions as it rots in landfills. Methane is the most damaging greenhouse gas we emit. We need to get better at eating our food and composting what we don’t eat.

    • Impulse buys at a grocery store can be very damaging.
      • If you don’t stick to your list or meal plan for the week, you are more likely to buy foods that will go bad before you eat them.
    • Some foods make a bigger difference in greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Livestock, mostly cows, and their manure emit methane
      • Beef and dairy consumption is one of the leading causes of deforestation, which releases carbon dioxide and causes warming temperatures.

    3 – Disposable packaging can be controlled. We have choices and we have a voice.

    • The first step is reducing single-use items. Change your eating habits with the tips in Step 2 to decrease your use of disposables.
    • Stop using disposable shopping bags. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s way too important and simple to carry a reusable bag. You shouldn’t be buying plastic ones.
      • I use Baggu bags and Chico Bags that I can carry in my purse or pocket, or you can… 
      • Build the habit of putting your reusable shopping bags back in the car after a trip to the store.
      • Reusables aren’t just for groceries. Use them at the home goods store, department store, pet supply store, anywhere… Carrying them everywhere helps build the habit, BONUS.
    • Only use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs.
      • I heard a podcast recently where the interviewee shared how she taught herself to always remember her reusable coffee mug. If she didn’t walk out the door with it, she didn’t allow herself to stop for coffee and get it in a disposable cup. She loved her morning coffee, so this quickly helped her remember to carry her reusable mug.
      • Keep a reusable water bottle at work and at home. You won’t default to using disposable cups and you’ll drink more water (you know it’s good for you).
        • Never buy bottled water. It’s not better for you.
    • We need to be telling retailers what we want. They all have contact pages on their websites. They should be hearing from their customers that we want less packaging.
      • Write a standard email message you can copy and paste. Send a few emails a week to push for change.
        • Start it by saying why it’s important to you. 
        • Point out why you think it should be important to them.
    • Our government representatives need to hear from us.
      • We need to tell them to support packaging laws in our communities, like Extended Producer Responsibility laws. 
      • They need to hear us say we want national programs for recycling infrastructure that works and laws that require retailers to change their overuse of packaging.

    I walked into a grocery store the other day for the first (and only) time in my new neighborhood. Every single piece of produce was already in a plastic bag. As if they thought that was helpful. I avoid using plastics for my produce, so I didn’t buy any. I picked up a few items I needed that day, and will not shop there again.

    Why It’s Important

    We have to remember that we may be one, but our habits are similar enough to count for many. Using one straw a day seems insignificant, but it isn’t when it adds up to 500 million are used each day in America alone.

    Think about this, in many ways, disposables actually complicate our lives. So let’s start with going back to basics and eliminating our single-use lifestyles, or at least cutting back on them.

    This isn’t a short-term task. It’s a full-time commitment to change. It means actively looking for adjustments you can make in your life that will reduce your impact. And it means we all have to work on it together, by looking for resources and sharing them with people we love. Here’s a great one I recently found from Green Child: 30 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment. Teach your children and let’s all make a difference together.

    With Much Gratitude

    That’s it for this issue. I’ll be continuing my bi-weekly schedule of gathering tips to share with you on how to Reduce, Reuse, and Rethink Recycling. So, see you in two weeks. 

    If you like this post, please forward it to every earth-friendly human you know. 

    If you like this blog and find it helpful, please consider supporting my continued work here.

    Drop me a line anytime if you have questions or comments. I love hearing from you.

    Thank you for reading these tips and subscribing. Pat yourself on the back for doing your part. Remember, everything helps.

    We’ve got this!

    All my best,

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